Creosotes contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as their main components. These are not readily degradable, poisonous to water organisms and accumulate in living things. In addition, certain PAHs in creosotes, for example benzo[a]pyrene - are carcinogenic. By far the most important use of wood impregnated with creosotes is for the sleepers needed in the construction of railway tracks.
The objectives of the provisions are:
- to minimise environmental pollution due to PAHs resulting from the use of wood preservatives containing creosote and the wood treated with them;
- to limit the sale of wood preservatives containing creosote to professional users;
- for health reasons, to avoid uses in which regular direct skin contact with the treated wood is possible, and
- to break the cycle of reselling used railway sleepers, so that the treated timber may be disposed of properly.